Undaunted by the rainy morning, volunteers at and in Valley Village and in Sherman Oaks showed up in droves to do their part to “heal the world,” on this annual Mitzvah Day across the San Fernando Valley.
I was sorry I couldn’t be in three places at once but I managed to get to Temple Beth Hillel in time to film Mitzvah Day opening ceremonies. With songs and speeches, Rabbi Joshua Samuels introduced the community to 10-year old congregant Lauren Levitt in whose honor the day was dedicated to fire safety and fundraising for the Children’s Burn Foundation.
Watch the featured video to meet cutie pie Lauren, who’s been recovering all year from a flaming gel accident, and see the panoply of other projects the hundreds of temple members took part in on Mitzvah Day. They donated blood, prepared meals, bagged groceries, collected toys and clothes, and even planted organic produce for distribution to clients of the North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry.
At Adat Ari El, wellness of body, mind and spirit was the theme of the day, as it will be at the synagogue all year long. By the time I arrived there from Beth Hillel, I still had time to meet the marines representing with field gear and Humvees. While kids love to sit in funky trucks, I’m not sure that the engines of war fit the wellness theme unless we focus on the wellbeing of those who are tasked with using them. The second video illustrates how the Adat community addressed that concern.
Another special project for the day was the filling of welcome baskets and decorating tiles for the new Glenoaks Gardens residence for mentally ill homeless. Stephanie Klasky-Gamer, a member of the Adat Ari El community who happens to be the executive director of , told me in the video about the agency’s innovative new shelter.
Other volunteers were packing up a thousand peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for homeless shelters, bags full of groceries for the , onesies and bibs for the Kaiser Permanente Pacoima Center and potholders for the women of Darfur to use with solar cookers.
As always, Mitzvah Day was produced by camera-shy Ruth Devine and members of Abraham’s Tent, the synagogue’s social action committee she heads. I missed most of the action but Deborah McAdams and Noah Breakman supplied me with pix for the photo gallery
At Temple B’nai Hayim, religious school kids made blankets for patients in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Northridge Hospital. I didn’t get there until long after they were finished but Rabbi Beryl Padorr emailed me a photo with this comment:
“The students in the Grau Religious School of Temple B'nai Hayim, grades K - 6 made the comfort blankets during Mitzvah Day because we are not to stand idly by - we are to help others in what ever way we are able to give help and compassion. We hope that the blankets will help those children who are ill to feel a little safer and bring them comfort.”
Click on the attached pdfs to see the myriad programs and collections that were undertaken at the synagogues leading up to Mitzvah Day, many of which will continue all year long.
I look forward to reading your comments in the box on this page.